Just because we “teach” it, doesn’t mean they learn it.


Reallyville founder

See more of John’s story here.

“Ice-breakers and get-to-know-you activities tend to backfire more often than not

Stop Using “Fun” Ice-Breakers

So many teachers want to do something fun on the first day. That’s a great idea and all, but ice-breakers and get-to-know-you activities tend to backfire more often than not. They make students, who are already nervous on the first day, do something they don’t feel like doing. It’s not fun. It’s awful. And that is not the vibe you want to give off the first day. Not to mention… that’s what all their other teachers are doing too! Why do we do that to them? It’s rarely meaningful or memorable, and for middle schoolers, it brings flashbacks of elementary school. It’s just not a good move.  What’s the point? We want to make them comfortable, but we end up doing the exact opposite. We want to set the right tone. We want an easy win the first day.

An EASY WIN! Do This Instead…

This powerful little lesson will blow right through the surface-level, “Where did you go this summer?, What is your favorite color? Share two things with the class,” cliche, elementary school stuff they’re used to. And it’s so simple.

1) Play this powerful video (it’s short and sweet)

2) They choose a prompt and write (for just 5 minutes or so)

3) Have them share what they wrote in small groups (to build confidence and meet classmates)

4) Go through each prompt with the class and have a discussion. (They’ve already had time to prep and discuss, so you will get more volunteers)

5) Collect the writings (You will learn SO MUCH MORE about your students than with the typical first day stuff)

You will be impressed at how your students dig in. It’s meaningful and memorable, and it sets the tone for the year. It empowers them to be proud of who they are and it shows that you are a teacher that appreciates their differences. In 16 years of teaching, it’s by far the best first day activity I’ve ever used.

Check Out Reallyville

Reallyville makes videos that middle schoolers can relate to. There’s nothing out there like it. Use our videos once or twice a week, and you’ll connect with your students like never before. Try out our first couple of videos for free with no sign-up or any gimmicky marketing tricks. Our videos speak for themselves, and if you use them with your students you’ll see what we mean.

Check out our preview page where you can see most of our content and get a feel for what we’re all about.